Social Studies curriculum meets new standards, 21st century requirements

By school year 2014-15, all Ohio school districts must implement new standards for Math, English/Language Arts, Science and Social Studies.  Our curriculum directors and teachers are staying ahead of the game, with a new Math program in place this year; Social Studies at the beginning of next year; English/Language Arts by the end of next year; and Science in 2013-14.

Last night, the Social Studies Curriculum Revision Team presented their work and recommendations for the new Social Studies curriculum.  There are new standards across the board, with some changes more drastic than others.  Overall, the requirements are more rigorous and require more depth, starting in kindergarten.  Because of the variety of requirements and ways to teach them, the committee looked at each grade to determine the best approach.

The new standards have a clear progression of skills in a spiral of complexity.  Also for the first time, what is taught in the classroom has been legislated by a Senate bill – SB 165 requires primary source documents be used in the classroom, including items like the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and many others.  Also, beginning with the class of 2016 (next year’s freshman class), students will be required to take end-of-course tests.

Specific recommendations included a combination of technology, textbooks, online resources, and trade books.  All grades will have either Smart Boards (elementary) or E-Beams (similar to Smart Boards but not as expensive and more appropriate for older children) (JH/HS).  We are also purchasing additional laptop carts for use in class.  This technology is being purchased within our approved curriculum budgets and also through donations from the Milford Schools Foundation.

In grades K-3, the committee recommended not purchasing textbooks, but instead using interactive technology through Smart Boards plus trade books.  This will allow students to be highly involved in the lessons, and allow teachers to adjust based on what is working in the classrooms.

Grades 4-6 will use Pearson texts, online options & supplemental materials, and tradebooks.  These grades will have a lot more rigor to their material, and Pearson is the first company to develop information geared to the new standards.

In grades 7-10, McGraw Hill curriculum will be used.  They also have an online resource center.  Most of the work in the JH will be online, but classroom book sets will be available.  The focus is inquiry learning using primary sources, and teachers will have the ability to adapt and differentiate by student.  For instance, for students at lower reading levels, teachers can automatically adjust the online resources to meet their reading level, reducing frustration and improving comprehension and retention.

Seniors in Government class will mostly use computers to access primary source documents, which aligns with the new standards.  For all secondary grades, a variety of interactive options, including maps, graphs, videos and activities will be available.

The Social Studies Committee did a wonderful job looking at a variety of options and identifying specific needs for each grade level.  They were able to add valuable technology to our teaching repertoire within the curriculum development budget and find instructional options that will engage our children and help them well develop a strong, deep understanding of the topics.

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